Mirror. Woman looking at her face in shards of broken mirror.

Mirror—What Interactions with Others Can Tell You about Yourself

The greatest thing in the world is
to know how to belong to oneself. 
—Michel de Montaigne

You yourself,
as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection. 
—Siddhārtha Gautama

You know those people you always have a good time with? People you can always pick up where you left off with, no matter what the circumstances? People you are completely at ease with? Think about how comfortable you feel when you’re with these people.

Do you ever feel this comfortable when you’re by yourself?

There are a lot of elements that go into the very best relationships. There has to be respect, honesty, appreciation, and a welcoming attitude. These elements happen automatically with people who make us happy.

Are these elements present when we’re alone? Do we show ourselves the same respect, honesty, and appreciation? Do we welcome our time alone?

Our ability to be happy and lead a fulfilling life depends in large part on our self-image and how much we like ourselves. When these attributes are not all they could be, our alone time is uncomfortable, and it also shows in our interactions with others.

Some people find themselves drawn to “yes men,” or those who affirm their words and actions under any circumstances but don’t challenge them or aren’t honest with them. Conversely, a negative self-image can lead us to spend time with people who are not at all supportive, or even abusive. We may feel like we deserve those kinds of friends.

A critical look at our relationships with others, and what we get from them, can tell us a lot about our relationships with ourselves.

In going down the road to being a happy person, we have to recognize and understand the positive aspects that draw us to others. We have to seek out people with characteristics that make us happy and make us laugh. But we also have to understand, develop, and nurture those characteristics in ourselves. This will enable us to like ourselves, make us comfortable in our own skin, and give us the foundations for happiness and inner peace.

We have to be (or become) the people we look forward to seeing, the people we have fun with, the people that make us think—not for the benefit of others, but for our own benefit.

This will make us look forward to time alone, and it will make our interactions with others more fulfilling.

Every interaction we have is a mirror into who we are. We should look in this mirror regularly and try to truly understand the image that we see. Only through this understanding can we become and remain the people we want to be.

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